What I learned from 5 years of M&M
When I started my first M&M game, sitting in the GM's chair for the first time in my life, I told myself, "I'll run this to the end no matter what, and treat it as a learning experience."
Five years later, as that game draws to a close, I realize that I did learn a lot -- and not just about being a GM.
I learned it can be fun! I know this sounds like stating the obvious. But I come from a background of freeform roleplaying, and in that hobby there was always an assumption that rules and dice must detract from a story instead of serving it. M&M's commonsense approach to rules, with a focus on what works for the story rather than simplistic, programmatic logic, convinced me that 'system games' could work.
I learned to be more inclusive. I'm atheist, and most of my players are theists. There are people on both sides of the political divide in my games. None of my players are of my ethnicity. None of them are even on the same continent I'm on. I can't claim to be some paragon of inclusivity and tolerance, because I have prejudices and I make mistakes, but I'm more aware of the need to make those who are different feel welcome in my games.
My successes in running long-lasting games (a rarity in play-by-post) gave me confidence in what I can learn and do, but even the less happy moments had plenty to teach me. Unfair and abusive players forced me to stand up for myself and my characters. People who respected neither me nor my time taught me to be assertive and value myself more. Periods of frustration taught me plenty about resilience and persistence.
While it's a stretch to say all this was only because of M&M, I do think it played an important part. Without it, I don't think I would have gone on a sugar-free diet, confronted my bosses about my work hours, or learned to cook where I used to burn water.
Roleplaying displaced the hours I spent on social media and television. It gave me a responsibility I was eager to fill, without stakes so high that I felt averse to taking risks or trying new things. And it cost me a fraction of the money I've spent on any entertainment.
Tabletop gaming isn't a hobby that attracts young people or new blood in general, and among those who play, it's a rare and brave soul who dares pick up the mantle of GM.
And that's a shame, because with the right players, it has plenty to offer.
Thanks to M&M for all I've learned.
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